Measuring Beliefs about Suffering: Development of the Views of Suffering Scale

Hale-Smith, Amy; Park, Crystal L.; Edmondson, Donald E.

Efforts to measure religion have intensified and many specific dimensions have been identified. However, although belief is a core dimension of all world religions, little attention has been given to assessment of religious beliefs. In particular, one essential set of religious beliefs, those concerning the reasons for human suffering, has remained virtually unexamined in spite of the potential clinical relevance of these beliefs. To fill the need for a measure of people’s beliefs about suffering, we developed the Views of Suffering Scale (VOSS). Analyses identified factors related to traditional Christian teachings, unorthodox theistic beliefs, karma, and randomness. Internal consistency and test-retest reliability for VOSS subscale scores were good (α’s and r’s ≥ .70). Comparisons to measures of related constructs suggest that the VOSS scores demonstrate good convergent validity. One subscale score was modestly correlated with social desirability related to image management, and seven were positively correlated to self-deceptive enhancement. These preliminary studies suggest that the VOSS differentiates religious perspectives on suffering among a sample of US university students, though more research is needed to confirm its utility in diverse populations. The VOSS provides a valid way to measure individuals’ beliefs about suffering, allowing for inquiry into the factors that lead to various beliefs about suffering and the roles of these beliefs in adjusting to stressful life events.


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Also Published In

Psychological Assessment

More About This Work

Academic Units
Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health
American Psychological Association
Published Here
April 18, 2016